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Economic Justice Committee Report

by Bill Lazarus

Kehilla kicked off its the tenth anniversary of involvement in the interfaith Oakland Community Organizations with an outreach, “Ubuntu Shabbat,” celebration on Saturday, August 15. It was a typical, spirited service, with a few twists, including Rabbi David reciting the Ve’ahafta in Spanish.

Les Morones, an OCO leader and a member of St. Jarlath Church, noted a few similarities. The Torah processional reminded her of lifting up the Bible before reading from it. Prayers for sick individuals and saying the names of the dead also were reminiscent of Catholic services. Still, the tone was different. “The liveliness of the music, and the dancing surprised me,” she said.

Ubuntu Shabbat drew about 85 people, including 10 from other congregations. Rabbi David spoke of the tradition of communal worship in Judaism – which hit a cord with Morones. “We weren’t created to be alone,” she said. She expressed the hope that the Ubuntu shabbat would start “a beautiful tradition” of interfaith services.

“A person is a person through other people” commented Rabbi Burt, speaking of the concept of Ubuntu. He tied it to the philosophy of Martin Buber, saying, “I cannot be an ‘I’ but through you as a ‘thou’.”

Oakland Community Organizations includes more than 40 congregations and 30 schools in Oakland focused on anti-poverty, anti-violence and anti-racism work. Kehilla’s Economic Justice Committee participates in its efforts on issues including crime reduction and mass incarceration, increasing the minimum wage, decreasing foreclosures, and supporting affordable housing.

Any Kehilla member interested in the social action opportunities of the EJC or possibly joining the committee is welcome. Feel free to contact Interim Chair, Mandy Bratt, at 

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